Reverb Babylon


A most amazing place, Oklahoma has the tallest trees I’ve ever seen plus it’s home to genius rocker Dwight Twilley, who's from Tulsa. From Norman, Oklahoma, is one of America’s finest surf-rock guitar heroes, Terry “Buffalo” Ware. Perhaps it’s because there’s no oceans for a couple thousand miles, that Terry’s musical imagination gets a good workout on his fantastic 2011 CD Reverb Babylon. As you listen to this amazing 14 track instro rock classic, you can hear echoes of California surf-rock legends The Ventures and also The Sandals, yet there’s something cool about the landlocked guitar groove that really keeps things rocking throughout. Terry is capable of being a one man wrecking crew, yet on Reverb Babylon he gets excellent support from members of his group The Shambles, including drummer Ray VanHooser and more. Like Terry says, ‘We’ve got reverb and we’re not afraid to use it.’ Guitar fans lucky enough to have heard John Blakeley’s brilliant 2006 album Tan Mantis, will enjoy Reverb Babylon, which kind of cuts a musical rug from the same train of thought. Without a doubt, with one memorable cut after the next, Reverb Babylon is viably Terry Ware’s ultimate guitar instrumental statement. www.TerryBuffaloWare.com

mwe3.com presents an interview with
Terry “Buffalo” Ware

mwe3: What was your musical mission so to speak on Reverb Babylon and how would you compare this new album with your earlier albums?

Terry Ware: I would say my mission is always the same, which is to try and present a collection of musically and sonically interesting compositions. I think this record is similar to my others, but different in the sense that I feel like there’s a continuity to it that goes beyond just being a collection of tunes, or at least that’s what I was hoping to achieve.

mwe3: When was Reverb Babylon written and recorded and who plays with you on the album and on gigs that you play?

TW: I started recording it in December of 2008 and finished up the tracking in April of 2011. I’m always writing and getting ideas for songs, so there were a couple of songs that emerged from previous ideas that I developed and some that I wrote from scratch as I recorded the project. There’s also one, “End of the Gulch,” that was co-written with Gregg Standridge, who is a guitarist and songwriter that I’ve been writing with for about the last year and a half. He also played the guitar solo on the track.

The players on the record are the same basic bunch that are on my other albums. Ray VanHooser on drums, Marlin Butcher on bass, Dennis Borycki on keys, along with Bob French on mandolin and dobro, John Fullbright on accordion and piano, and Michael McCarty on percussion. I should also mention Carl Amburn. I’ve recorded the drum tracks for all my albums at his studio, The Mousetrap. He also does the mixing and mastering and does a great job.

mwe3: How does living in Oklahoma influence your writing and playing and what are some of the other musical influences in play on the Reverb Babylon CD?

TW: Oklahoma has a really rich and diverse musical history and I think having been exposed to it and submerged in it contributes greatly to the way I play and write. I’ve got so many influences. A short list would be The Ventures, Link Wray, The Beatles, Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Jesse Ed Davis, Freddie King, Jimi Hendrix, early Frank Zappa, Ennio Morricone, Chuck Berry, Charley Christian, Don Rich. I could go on for a long time.

mwe3: On Reverb Babylon, there’s a cool cover of “Crying In The Rain”. What is it about that song that you love and can you say something about the two other covers on the new album? Are there other songs you’d like to cover in the future and what makes a song good for you as a guitar instro cover?

TW: It’s just a beautiful, well crafted song and I've always been a huge Everly Brothers fan as well. The thing that drew me to it is first of all the melody. It also has a great chord progression and feeling. The other covers on the album are “Subway Surfin’” which was written by Jim Hoke, who is an old friend and an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist. He used to live in Oklahoma, but has been in Nashville for the last thirty years or so and is a first call session player there. “I Only Pray at Night” was written by John Fullbright, who lives in Oklahoma and is one of the best, young songwriters there is. “Skywriter” is by Jimmy Webb, who in my mind is one of America’s greatest composers, period, and from Oklahoma I might add. I’ve always wanted to do an instrumental of one of his songs, but not one that has been done by a lot of people. I finally decided on this song, which is really an amazing piece of music.

As far as other songs I'd like to cover, I don't have anything specific in mind at the moment, but I'm sure something will hit me at some point. That's what has happened with the others I've covered in the past. I tend to gravitate toward really melodic pop songs in that regard, and it ultimately has to be a song that is not only harmonically interesting but also one that moves me emotionally.

mwe3: How is your blend of instro rock guitar music accepted in Oklahoma and would you like to bring your music to other parts of the country and the world?

TW: There's really not an instro scene in Oklahoma to speak of, so I actually only get to do a few live gigs a year with The Shambles. People like it when they hear it though, and we've got a bit of a following. Also, I get a fair amount of work as a sideman and the other members have so much other stuff going on that it can be tricky getting us all in the same place at the same time. I'd love to get out and play my music elsewhere here in the States and I do love the UK and Europe. I've toured over there in the past with Ray Wylie Hubbard, who I've worked with off and on since 1972. I did make it to the Pipeline convention a few years ago also, along with my friend Dennis Meehan from The Plungers, but didn't play.

mwe3: You list a number of guitars on inside of the CD packaging. Can you give an example, on the Reverb Babylon album of how you decide what guitar is right for a song?

TW: I'm a tone freak and I'm lucky in that I have a number of really nice guitars. I'm also lucky that I've had several of them for a long time and didn't have to pay outlandish prices for them. I've also got some really great amps. The feel and spirit of a song are basically what I base my guitar choice on. One specific example I could give is on "Skywriter." Initially I played the melody on my Jaguar. Then after letting it sit and coming back and listening, I decided that it wasn't really getting to me and didn't really serve the song well. I picked up my Les Paul and started playing along with the piano track and playing with my fingers instead of using a pick and knew immediately that's what I wanted. Then I overdubbed the harmonic swells at the end with my Wilson Bros.

mwe3: When it is right to add effects and even more reverb to a guitar instrumental? What favorite effects and amps help attain the perfect guitar instrumental sound?

TW: It's always the right time to add more reverb! (laughter) As far as effects go, if a certain effect can add to the texture of the overall sound it's right. The one effect that I use all the time is a Sex Drive, which is made by Durham Electronics. It's a clean boost pedal that doesn't alter the tone of the amp at all. I can't even tell you exactly what it does, but I swear it's magic. I keep it on all the time. When I record, I always use amps and mic them up. I never go direct. My personal favorite amps to use are my '65 Princeton, '59 Bandmaster, '52 Gibson GA-20, '60s Magnatone Troubadour 213-A and my '50s Bell & Howells.

mwe3: What do you remember about your first guitar and how did you became interested in studying, playing and performing music?

TW: My first guitar was a Kay acoustic that my parents got with S&H Green Stamps when I was 14. The first song I picked out on it was "Pipeline." I actually started out on piano when I was nine and studied it through my freshman year of college. Even before I started lessons, I was banging out things on it. My first piano teacher fired me for making up stuff, but we found another who encouraged it. I'm self-taught on guitar, although I'd ask other players questions. But I never took any guitar lessons. I played in a band in high school and we worked just about every weekend, so I learned a lot "on the job." I was lucky enough to be able to take an elective music theory class when I was 15, which I loved. I also studied theory for a year in college. However, nothing can beat just getting out and playing gigs and learning how to play on the fly.

mwe3: What are some of your favorite guitar albums, then and now?

TW: I loved The Ventures Surfing and Ventures In Space albums. I got those through a record club my parents were in for a while. I also got singles at the local record shop back then and borrowed and traded records with friends. Loved "Rebel Rouser," by Duane Eddy, "Telstar" by The Tornados, "Raunchy," by Bill Justis, "Sleepwalk," by Santo and Johnny, "The Magnificent Seven Theme," by Al Caiola, "Scratchy," by Travis Wammack, "Rumble" by Link Wray, "Baja" by The Astronauts, "Miserlou" by Dick Dale, "Buckaroo" by Don Rich, "Apache," by Jorgen Ingmann. I wasn't able to get records by The Shadows over here, but once I discovered them I fell in love with them too. As far as more current guitar albums in the instro rock vein, some of my favorites are by Los Straitjackets, Slacktone, Laika and The Cosmonauts, Big Lazy, The Plungers, Insect Surfers and The Halibuts.

mwe3: How does guitar instrumental music help unify music listeners and guitarists?

TW: As cliché as it sounds, I think it helps unify folks for the simple reason that music is the universal language. It transcends race, gender, nationality and has the power to heal.

Thanks to Terry Ware @ www.TerryBuffaloWare.com


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