Time Dilation
(David Stockden Music)


U.K. guitarist David Stockden is making sonic waves with his 2014 CD Time Dilation. Essentially a one man band effort, the ten track CD features a cross section of electric and acoustic guitar based instrumental sounds. Stockden’s expertise at overdubbing himself on a range of instrumental tracks makes the CD a tasteful blend of appealing guitar-centric sounds. There’s even some tracks in the realm of Indian music and moodier, often times soothing acoustic / electric moments. Commenting on the time between his last release, 2010's Reflections Of Themes and the 2014 CD release of Time Dilation, Stockden explains, "It came together after a period of not being able to play due to injury. My hands had been playing up for a few years and I finally took the decision to not play for 8 months, which was tough as any musician knows. When I came back to playing in August 2014, I found I had to relearn a bit and it took my playing in a slightly different direction. I played a lot with my fingers rather than a pick. Because of this, my approach to music changed and that has been the most development that has taken place over the year,s technique-wise at least." Fans of guitar heroes such as Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani will appreciate Stockden’s grasp of various guitar instrumental genres. On the 2014 CD release of Time Dilation, David Stockden successfully merges an intriguing and highly listenable coalition of jazzy, rocking guitar instrumentals. www.DavidStockden.com

mwe3.com presents an interview with

: How did the new Time Dilation CD take shape and how would you compare it to your 2010 Reflections Of Themes album and also to some of your other albums? Was there another album in between those two and how do you feel your music has grown or changed over the years and how many albums have you released? Do you have any unreleased music and/or would you consider a retrospective CD or DVD at some point?

David Stockden: It came together after a period of not being able to play due to injury. My hands had been playing up for a few years and I finally took the decision to not play for 8 months, which was tough as any musician knows. When I came back to playing in August 2014 I found I had to relearn a bit and it took my playing in a slightly different direction. I played a lot with my fingers rather than a pick. Because of this my approach to music changed and that has been the most development that has taken place over the years technique wise at least.

In between Reflections of Themes and Time Dilation I released an acoustic album called Streaming Thoughts. I released only on iTunes and Amazon downloads. I did that as a bit of a backlash against robotic over edited music. Most of those tracks are one take and are improvisations, hence the Streaming Thoughts title. They are rough and ready but I’d rather go and see someone play with their heart and not everything be perfect than a perfect show with no emotion.

Apart from Streaming Thoughts I did release a track called Giusy, named after a paralympic athlete I witnessed at a track meet. I’m a big para sport fan, who inspired me, her name is Giusy Versace, Incredible woman!

I have released 3 full length albums, the first was True Intent.

I wanted some dissonance in the music, even the ballads. Not a lot of people got my intent though and thought some of it was mistakes!

As for unreleased tracks I have a hard drive full of songs I have started and then left because I didn't feel they had a place.

I don’t feel I’ve released enough to have a retrospective album out yet.

: How has your choice of guitars changed over the years? I remember when you released the Reflections Of Themes with Music Man guitars. Gear wise, what’s new in the guitar world for you and what guitars, electric and acoustic, and setups, including pedals and other effects, did you use on the Time Dilation CD? Are you still seeking out new guitars and how do you find that various guitars help you shape the sound you’re looking for to fit the music you’ve written? And how about amps, as you said in 2010, you were amp-less! I hope that’s not the case nowadays.

David Stockden: I was never entirely happy with Music Man guitars, The necks felt great but they are really narrow and I think that was part of the issue with injury, screwing my hands up tight to fit them on the fingerboard.

After looking around to see what was about I initially went back to Ibanez guitars, what I was using previously to Music Man. I went to a guitar show about four years ago and ended up chatting to Ben from Vigier guitars. Their main innovation is that they don’t have truss rods, instead they have a strip of carbon. They use stainless steel frets too which is great for me as I can go through a set of frets in a few months.

I bought a 6 and then a 7 string and apart from having the pick up switching modified by my guitar tech, I tweaked them to how I wanted it and that’s it, I’ve not had to do anything else, they are just consistent.

Apart from that I’ve gone a bit more traditional and play Strats and a Tele a lot now.

For the album I intended to use just one guitar, it didn’t quite turn out like that though in the end!

I used a USA standard Strat with vintage noiseless pick ups, a Japanese Strat, a Kenny Wayne Shepherd Strat, a Line 6 Tyler Variax, nylon string Variax, Ibanez RG 550ltd with sustainer fitted and my Vigier Excalibur special. I also used my Yamaha FG400 guitar which I’ve had since 1991 and was my first ‘proper’ guitar.

I think with the exception of the Vigier for my modern styles, I have found that the Strat is what I’ve been searching for. I sort of reverse engineered my way through guitars from Ibanez’s back to Strats. Sometimes the originals are still the best!

I play differently if I play my Strats, especially the vintage radius Japanese one. They chime nicely and I tend to create more chordal ideas.

I use the Vigier for anything where I want a thicker sound and want to go up to the 24th fret.

As for seeking new guitars out, I would like a 335 with vintage style pick ups in for a different tonality, amazingly for me I’m not hunting for gear.

For pedals I kept it fairly simple. I tend to use a Pod HD500 for effects when I’m playing. Recording wise I used the pitch shifter in the HD500 for the whammy effects. Delay etc, is from within Pro Tools.

The amp tones were a combination of a Blackstar Series 100 104 6L6 head, what I ended up getting in 2010, and a Chandler plug in amp. The Blackstar is great. I tend to use low gain sounds so I am nowhere using it to its full extent but it has a really nice clean and just slightly dirty tone.

mwe3: On Reflections Of Themes you had Stu Hamm guesting and you farmed out the drums so what were the recording sessions like for Time Dilation this time around? So you played the drums this time? How did you approach making this latest CD and what did you set out to achieve this time?

David Stockden: It says me doing everything... I cheated with the drums. I used MIDI Pads and a keyboard to put them down! I wanted a fairly rigid beat and a sound which could easily be both a drummer or a machine on the track “Time Dilation”. The others I wanted, and hopefully got, more of a drummer feel to them.

The guitar and bass recording was fairly straight forward. I think I must try too hard with bass though as I had stiff fingers after each recording session on the picking hand. The tension difference between a bass and a guitar really shows up then and showed how weak my hands were after 8 months off.

I approached the making of the CD as I usually do, that being I want some up tempo tracks, some slow tracks and then some tracks which are a bit different from the norm. This time it was the Indian influence. I set out to have a fairly mixed album. I think I achieved that style wise but it all sounding like me. I don’t think I have a style, I’m a mishmash of others, as most guitarists are.

mwe3: You mention the concept of “Time Dilation”. Can you elaborate on that? I see there’s a lot of info on it online but is there a way to explain it to a novice and how you feel it relates to the composition and performance of your music? Is there a concept behind the Time Dilation album? It sounds pretty timeless to my ears.

David Stockden: I am a novice myself! I watch a lot of science programs on Youtube and the concept of time dilation has popped up a few times. Essentially my understanding of it is that... for instance, if you have two identical clocks and you put one on a something traveling fast and one stationary on the earth, once compared after this trip to the clock that didn’t make the journey, the clock on the plane would be slightly behind. Another example could be if you went out into space traveling very fast, then what may have registered to you on the spacecraft as being 50 years may be 51 years back on earth.

In theory, from what I understand the faster you go, the more the difference would be to that of the stationary object. I could be completely wrong though!

How I applied the idea to the tracks on Time Dilation is sometimes subtle and sometimes more obvious. I combined the idea with the thought of... would things necessarily go smoothly all the time, would some things catch up and interfere with other things?

The slowing down in the track “Time Dilation” at the end... I wish it was the days of Walkmans and people thinking their batteries were dying!

“Tomorrow I Wish You Everything” and “Venu(m)” have very similar harp harmonics at the end. The idea of that was that they were a remnant that was delayed and somehow combined with the ones at the end of “Venu(m)” but not exactly the same as them, a bit parallel universes gone wrong!. With “Tomorrow I Wish You Everything”, I also tried to go for that slightly out of tune record player/Jeff Beck sound, a slightly warped record interfering with the timing type thing.

mwe3: I’m glad to see that on the Time Dilation album you showcase a number of different guitar genres and some of the tracks are quite meditative and other cuts have Indian music influences too. Contrast your interest in hard rock instrumentals with your interest in more New Age and Indian flavored instrumentals. I recall that you said you were also keen on making a relaxation album. I like the way that track seven and eight, “Tomorrow I Wish You Everything” and “Venu(m) segues into track nine, a rocker called “Startech Monitor”. Is the sequence of those three cuts a good example of your contrasting musical dispositions? Also I remember you said you wanted to do a vocal album at some point. Is that still a possibility?

David Stockden: I grew up on hard rock/pop/metal but I’ve always been aware and interested in music from other countries. Where I grew up there were a lot of families with Indian heritage. I heard music through windows and such and to some extent at school. The person I consider my best friend is Hindu and she appears on the track “Indian Beads”, her mother appears on the intro. I asked her to do it as I felt it lent an air of authenticity to the track!

I have an interest in Hinduism and its many branches. The track “Venu(m)” takes its names partly from a friend of mine whose spiritual initiate name is Venu, the addition of the “(m)” indicates from where her name came. Venum is the name of the flute that the God Krishna plays. The sustainer guitars on that track has long flowing notes such as a flute may play.

I would still like to do a relaxation album, I don’t know if it will come to fruition or not.

For the order of those 3 tracks I liked the way “Tomorrow I Wish You Everything” went into “Venu(m)”. I felt a more uptempo track would fit best after that as I always intended closing the album with “GDH”.

I attempted a few vocal tracks, “Holding On” and “Haunted By Your Love” are on iTunes. I felt that I should stick to guitar playing after doing those so I’m not really thinking too much about a vocal album unless someone else is singing!

mwe3: For Time Dilation, what was the recording / overdubbing process like to create a one man band project? The sound is great, who did the mixing and mastering and was anyone else involved in making the album? What kind of recording equipment do you use when you write and record?

David Stockden: The process was easier as I wasn’t relying on other peoples schedules, on the other hand it was harder as it meant I had to be more disciplined and get to work, which required motivation which sometimes was lacking!

I did the mixing. I was hesitant about it after having an issue with my ears which resulted in having the “underwater” sound in my ears a lot of the time. It resulted from the stupidest thing. I was on a flight back to England from the USA and the tubes to my ears closed with the pressure and they have never opened. I didn’t know if I could hear enough detail or not. I still don’t know if I could or not as it appears to be permanent!

Apart from me the only other people on the album are Anisha Panchmatia and Mina Dhanesha who did the vocal parts on “Indian Beads”.

The album was mastered by Henry Smithson who runs a mastering studio in a place called Reading which is nearish London.

For recording it was Pro tools 10 on an iMac using a UAD Apollo interface. I used mainly the stock pro tools plug ins apart from for the bass which was an Amplitube SVT bass amp.

mwe3: What kind of album would you like to make next and what other musical plans do you have as we move into 2015?

David Stockden: I’ve got my next album planned out! It’s going to be a collection of ballads. I feel more a connection with that type of playing. I’ve got all the titles in place for it and I’m going to write to the titles and hope something comes out. It’s going to be split between acoustic and electric, not sure of the ratio. I hope to have this finished by mid 2015.

Thanks to David Stockden @ www.DavidStockden.com


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